click image to enlarge

Birth of a Psychedelic Culture

Conversations about Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties
By: ,
Contributor Role: 
By (author)
Contributor Sequence Number: 
Contributor name: 
Paperback Book
Synergetic Press
February, 2010
$39.95 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

This extraordinary labor of loving history shines a bright light on the emergence of the Sixties culture and the experiments with mind-altering substances undertaken by Professors Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and then-Harvard graduate student Ralph Metzner. Based on a series of conversations between Metzner and Ram Dass and recorded by psychiatrist Gary Bravo, this book describes their initial experiments at Harvard, the experiments after they were dismissed from Harvard, their journeys to India and their reflections on that transformative era.

Birth of a Psychedelic Culture is filled with never before published photographs. Luminaries who appear in this astonishing account include Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, R.D. Laing, Charles Mingus, Maynard Ferguson and William Burroughs, as well as many lesser-known personalities. These include convicts, graduate students and Vedantist monks! In addition to reviewing the experiments, the conversations offer vividly recalled descriptions of particular “trips,” with profound insights into the nature of hallucinogens and the role they can play in transcending social conditioning.

Included in Birth of a Psychedelic Culture are personal commentaries from some of the other players integral to the scene: Peggy Hitchcock, the Mellon Foundation heiress; Dr. Gunther Weil, psychologist and educator; Dr. Michael Kahn, clinical psychologist; poet Dr. Elsa von Eckartsberg; Dr. George Litwin, organizational behavior consultant; Dr. Paul Lee, professor of philosopy and religion; Dorothy Fadiman, award winning filmmaker; Lisa Ferguson, and many others.

No understanding of the history of the Sixties could ever be complete without a grasp of the work of Leary, Alpert, and Metzner, the cultural resistance to their experiments, and the way in which psychoactive drug use became a part of contemporary society.

Highlights include a foreword by John Perry Barlow, which ends thus:

Ram Dass said, “Be here now.”

And here we all are. Now. Ready at last with the patience, forgiveness, contrition and self-amusement necessary to continue the work in earnest. It is a good time to go back to the beginnings of the revolution still underway and take stock.

It’s a good time to read this book. Now.

Ram Dass (formerly Dr. Richard Alpert) is a spiritual teacher, author of the bestseller Be Here Now, and a founder of organizations dedicated to expanding consciousness and awareness, including the Lama and Seva Foundations.

Ralph Metzner, author of many books, practices psychotherapy and is Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Involved in consciousness research for over 40 years, including psychedelics, yoga, meditation, and shamanism, he is co-founder of the Green Earth Foundation.

Gary Bravo is the Chief Psychiatrist for Sonoma County in Santa Rosa, CA.  






Publisher’s Description: 

Birth of a Psychedelic Culture shines a bright light on the exploratory culture of the time and experiments undertaken by Professors Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and then-graduate student Ralph Metzner. Based on a series of recent (2003 to 2005) conversations between the survivors of that distinguished trio, Metzner and Alpert, facilitated by psychiatrist/writer Gary Bravo, the book describes their initial experiments with mind-altering substances while at Harvard. It goes on to cover experiments they conducted after being dismissed from Harvard, their trips to India and their reflections looking back through time at all of the above. It is filled with intriguing photographs marking and illuminating the events brought to life through the text.

Community Reviews

Login or Register to post a review